One David Beckham corner kick proved to be the difference as the Union fell 1-0 to the Galaxy for only their third loss at home all season.
Edson Buddle headed in the only goal of the game in the 27th minute, and the Union failed to create many chances even after dominating possession for much of the second half. Michael Orozco Fiscal seemed to lose Buddle with bodies moving around in the box, and Buddle rose highest to head past a stranded Brad Knighton.
Even after bringing on Shea Salinas and Roger Torres in the second half, the Union failed to find the tying goal. LA was willing to let the Union keep possession, and it proved to be the correct strategy as Philadelphia seemed content to move the ball around without much intent in the final third.
The Union started brightly and kept the Galaxy pegged back in the first 10 minutes. The hard work of Sebastien Le Toux and Danny Mwanga forced the Galaxy into keeping the ball in their own end, relying on long balls from goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts. The pressure finally built into an opportunity on 18 minutes when Le Toux drove to the end line, dragging a ball back across the box only to see Mwanga a step away from a clear sight at goal and the ball diverted to safety. It was after this that the Galaxy started to assert themselves, keeping the Union held up in their own end. Brad Knighton was called into action on a few occasions plucking dangerous crosses and smothering balls in the box. But the goal was always coming, and it was Buddle escaping Orozco Fiscal to head home.
The Union started much brighter in the second half, keeping posessionl for good stretches while the Galaxy seemed content to keep all 10 men behind the ball. Justin Mapp tested Ricketts with a long range effort that curved just away from the far post on 48 minutes. The Union’s best chance probably came on 73 minutes when Le Toux craftily back-heeled Andrew Jacobson’s cross only to have Ricketts push the ball away at full stretch. The Galaxy’s lone chance of the half came when Landon Donovan got in behind the Union’s defense to break in on Knighton, only for the keeper to close him down and save well to keep the Union’s chances alive. Shea Salinas was a positive substitute, driving down the right wing and forcing Ricketts into two stops. Peter Nowak threw Roger Torres on for the last 10 minutes as a final roll of the dice, but the Galaxy held on to remain the top team in the league.
If that’s the best team in the league, I feel good about the Union.
PPL Park was rocking
There has been a great atmosphere for almost every home at PPL, but the new stadium record of 18,779 people kept the place rocking all night. The SoBs were in full voice leading the way for most of the night, and the rest of the crowd kept the energy up, booing Beckham’s every touch. Even the almighty Beckham admitted, “When you play in Europe, this is what you see, and I do kind of enjoy it. Fans at away games are the way they should be. You know the way fans are and way people are in Philly about sports and how passionate they are.”
No one loves you Jordan Harvey
We’ve ragged on Harvey enough on PSP, but it’s becoming more clear that he’s all but lost the confidence of his teammates. Even when he does make a run up the left flank, he’s often ignored and the ball rarely gets played to him. Even the center backs seemed happier to play through Sheanon Williams on the right side. A left back has to be on the top of the Union’s wish list in the off-season.
GK Brad Knighton – 8
Solid night for Knighton. Not really too much he could have done about the goal and had several key saves in the first half before it. Huge save on Donovan in the second half the keep the Union in the game.
LB Jordan Harvey – 5
See above. But not much from the LB, as we’ve come to expect. No service and his preferred defensive tactic seemed to be running straight back away from the ball.
CB Danny Califf – 7
A good night for the captain. Was stalwart in the air and closed down space extremely well when the Galaxy got on the ball.
CB Michael Orozco Fiscal – 5
Caught flat-footed marking Buddle on the corner kick. Seemed to be lacking his touch all night, a few times failing to control the ball and a few passes sent off the mark.
RB Sheanon Williams – 6
A good effort from the youngster. Provided some service down the right wing and his ability to get forward kept LA from attacking much down his wing. The long throw continues to be a valuable weapon.
RM Fred – N/A
Was forced to leave early in the first half after taking an elbow to the head.
CM Stefani Miglioranzi – 6
Won the ball well all night while pressing in the midfield, but had no distribution. He probably played 20 three-yard passes to Nakazawa, his partner in the middle.
CM Andrew Jacobson – 6
Started in the center and was switched out wide when Fred went off. Failed to find the ball for much of the match but did play a great ball to Le Toux on the Union’s best chance, after making a good run to get the ball over the top.
LM Justin Mapp – 7
A good evening for Mapp. Was at the heart of most of the Union’s offense in the midfield both with his ability to run at defenders and his distribution. Had a long drive just sail wide in the second half. Possibly didn’t touch the ball with his right foot all game.
F Danny Mwanga – 5
Held in check all game by a terrific Omar Gonzalez. Saw little time on the ball and very rarely was even able to face up a defender. He’ll have to get used to being man marked.
F Sebastien Le Toux – 7
Always industrious and chasing lost causes. The Frenchmen worked his socks off but found few clear chances. Had a terrific redirection pushed away by Ricketts.
Kyle Nakazawa – 7
Came on for the injured Fred early on and played centrally. One of the best performances from the youngster. Keeping high pressure in the center of the park and consistently linking up play.
Shea Salinas – 7
A positive substitute with 20 minutes remaining. Drove down the right wing and forced Ricketts into action on a few occasions.
Roger Torres – 5
Saw the pitch for the last 10 minutes but failed to put his mark on the game. Had a few touches in and around the box, but couldn’t find the final ball.
(Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz. For more photos from the game, click here.)